German Techno in GERMANY!!
Tucked in a gentle and scenic East German valley/resevoir for calm family summer lazy breaks was a MASSIVE and LOUD TECHNO festival which was pretty much running on ALL CAPS for two days last weekend. Sonne Mond Sterne (Sun Moon Stars) attracted 25k folk to a filthy-after-it-all slope to pitch a tent and dance around a bit in the festival area proper. Cause Germany may not have invented Techno, but they have taken it deep to their hearts.
Entrance involved some embedded simulation of crowd dynamics, then a request to insert the arm into a large and frightening mechanical metal punch to stamp the entrance bracelet into practically uncheatable wrist position. Techno. That introduction was topped with an already heaving roaring crowd in the Dark Kraut Rock tent (which we never really fathomed).
We were pretty much the only non-Germans we encountered, besides our inexplicably Czech neighbors (we coming from Slovakia with a CZ registered car). I did spot an encampment with a UK flag on the first day, but some local pressures must have led to its symbolic ambandonment. Our foreign presence was mostly met with puzzlement and surprise (“you came how far?”), some pride (“Germans really know how to party”), and just a few friendly people. But mostly a sort of embarrassment and passing; English wasn’t widely spoken. This was the former East, and even in much of Slovakia the locals are more likely to reflect its former dominance and speak German. This even brought some outright hostility, at a too late hour we were mistaken for English and met with some leftover WW2 sentiment (“fuck off”, a bit of English they could speak). Too ridiculous to be shocking, it just set off some amatuer political history discussions. But even with each other, the Germans seemed reserved; campers pretty much kept to themselves and didn’t mix with the neighbors. Or otherwise acted completely insane to socialize.
Though based in admirable ecominded policy, we had a difficult time with the custom of 1 euro deposit required on beverage containers from the bar. Return the glass/bottle to the same place, along with a small plastic chip, and deposit retrieved. But the likelihood of being in the same place when the drink is finished was small, and the effort of figuring out which bar is was in the first place sometimes unsurmountable. Some locals seemed to have the hang of this, but the heaps and heaps of containers spread across the grounds indicated that this had resulted in just a convinient way to charge even more for drinks. Burning Man leave-no-trace this was not; personal responsibility trumps monetary mechanisms?
But right, the music! Top notch. We actually gravitated towards the house-ish tent the first night. Night two we boarded the docked party boat for some 8-bit electro rocking. 8-bit hits deep parts of my brain; the repeated Pavlovian reward/punishment of youthful Nintendo/Atari has worked distorted square and sawtooth waves into an instant trigger for dancing and happy feeling.
The highlight was a bit of surprise. I am a huge fan of Sven Vath, ever since randomly picking up Contact in a small Clapham Junction shop, but the times I’ve seen him DJ at The End have been a let down; the sound doesn’t exactly breath in that small space. But on the main stage at SMS Sven Vath played just about the best set I have seen. Driving and twisted, yes this was a DJ set that could hold the attention of rock star sized crowd. He danced around like a benevolent and loopy uncle. After multiple decades of this, he even looked very healthy this night! Threw in Kraftwerk towards the end; Sven Vath playing Kraftwerk, who can complain. Danka Sven!